Goosebumps

"Good"

Goosebumps Review


Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package, this lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails. It helps that Jack Black is on board, giving one of his more energetically charged performances, and that the script peppers scenes with smart gags. But an over-reliance on big special effects weakens the movie's big climax, and the breathless pace is sometimes exhausting.

Black plays Stein himself, a reclusive author and over-protective father who lives in a small town with his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). Then single mother Gale (Amy Ryan) moves in next door with her teen son Zach (Dylan Minette), who is immediately intrigued by Hannah. Despite Stein's warnings, Zach and his new school friend Champ (Ryan Lee) sneak into the house to find out more, opening one of the novelist's manuscripts in the process. Out pops an abominable snowman, who proceeds to wreak havoc in the town. And the next literary escapee, the sadistic ventriloquist's dummy Slappy, is even worse. He sets about releasing all of Stein's fictional monsters into the real world, unleashing chaos on a massive scale. But Zach has an idea that may stop the mayhem.

Screenwriter Darren Lemke and director Rob Letterman have a great time bringing the maximum level of pandemonium to this small town, with a range of outrageous creatures that are both comical and scary. These are rendered in rather obvious digital animation, including a gang of militarised garden gnomes, a slimy blob, zombies, werewolves and a gigantic praying mantis. But the cartoonish sheen is undercut intriguingly by some genuinely tense moments, mainly because Slappy is properly menacing. Black provides Slappy's gleefully sinister voice while hamming it up on-screen as Stein. Minette and Rush are fine as the usual bland youthful heroes with a cute hint of romance between them. And more textured acting is provided in small roles by Ryan, Jillian Bell (as Gale's airhead sister) and Ken Marino (as a lovelorn colleague).

While the film spirals through its awkward mix of silliness and horror, everything is so toned down for a family audience that the suspense never builds to much, and the story's clever message is watered down to insignificance. As the nuttiness builds into an unnecessarily bloated final action sequence, viewers have little to do but sigh and hope the chaos ends quickly. So while it's just about entertaining enough, and the filmmakers have manipulated the material to leave the door open for a sequel, it's difficult to look forward to another movie like this.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Goosebumps:



Goosebumps

Facts and Figures

Genre: Kids/Family

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th October 2015

Budget: $58M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Original Film, Scholastic Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 80 Rotten: 30

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Neal H. Moritz, Deborah Forte

Starring: as R.L. Stine, as Zach Cooper, Odeya Rush as Hannah, as Gale, as Lorraine, as Champ, as Coach Carr, as Taylor, as Anna, as Foreman, as Officer Stevens, Amanda Lund as Officer Brooks, Steven Krueger as Davidson, Karan Soni as Mr. Rooney, as Mayor, Kevin Galbraith as Ghoul, Keith Arthur Bolden as Principal Garrison, Benjamin Papac as Seth, R.L. Stine as Mr. Black, Nate Andrade as Monster #1, John Bernecker as Will Blake, Sheldon Brown as Monster #2, Melissa Brewer as Monster #3, Marshall Choka as Murder the Clown, Melissa Cowan as Ghoul, John Deifer as Professor Shock, Everett Dixon as Monster #7, Brian Gabriel as Monster #8, Maryann Gorka as Monster #10, Clare Halstead as Carly Beth, Devin Hampton as Monster #12, Rory Healy as Count Nightwing, Drew Lamkins as Lord High Executioner, Vivian Kyle as Snake Lady, Katie Lumpkin as Creep #1, Charlie Leach as Monster #15, Larry Mainland as Ghoul, Lucky Mangione as Creep #2, Justin Natic as Ghoul, Josh Phillips as Cronby, Mickie Pollock as Madame Doom, Steve Quinn as Captain Long Ben One-Leg, Ashley Jo Sizemore as Ghoul, Jeff Tenney as Monster #24, Jennifer Trudrung as Ghoul, Ashton Lee Wolden as Monster #26, Coleman Youmans as Ghoul

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